tv PBS News Hour PBS May 31, 2013 3:00pm-4:01pm PDT
captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions >> woodruff: the obama administration said today the financial outlook for medicare improved slightly and social security has not worsened. but new data shows americans still struggling to recover from the recession. good evening, i'm judy woodruff. > own: i'm jeffrey brown. on the newshour tonight, we examine the report from federal reserve economists finding the average household has regained less than half its wealth since 2007. >> woodruff: then we debate what's to be done about student loans as president obama pressed congress again today to prevent a doubling of some key interest rates july 1. >> brown: we get two stories on syria's civil war and its impact on the wider middle east. margaret warner is on the ground
in beirut and spoke with the leader of the free syrian army. >> he said "i cannot understand why our friend in the west don't help us when they see how much the iranians and the russians are doing for assad's forces." >> woodruff: and ray juarez looks at the plight of hundreds of thousands of syrian refugees who have pored into neighboring jordan. >> brown: plus mark shields and david brooks onl analyze the week's news. >> woodruff: that's all ahead on tonight's newshour. >> i want to make things more secure. >> i want to treat more dogs. >> our business needs more cases. >> where do you want to take your business? >> i need help selling art. >> from broadband, to web hosting, to mobile apps, small business solutions from a.t.&t. can help get you there. we can show you how a.t.&t. solutions can help your business today.
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and friends of the newshour. >> this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> woodruff: government officials said today the trust fund fueling the nation's medicare program is in somewhat stronger shape than it was last year. they projected it will stay solvent until 2026, two years later than last year's projections. at the same time, the budget outlook for the nation's social security program remains unchanged. it is projected to stay solvent until funding runs out in 2033. meanwhile, a new federal reserve study found that while some americans are rebounding from the economic recession, others continue to struggle. among the results: u.s. households have recovered on average only 45% of the $16 trillion of wealth lost during the recession.
two-thirds of that regained wealth is tied to rising stock prices, which have disproportionately benefited well-off americans. but for middle- and lower-income households, the economic picture is not so bright, due in large part to depressed home prices, still 30% below their peak. to discuss what this means for the nation's economic recovery, we talk to a co-author of that report. william emmons is chief economist at the center for household financial stability at the federal reserve bank of saint louis. welcome to the newshour. so it's clear, mr. emmons, that for many americans they're doing very well since this recession. but for others in your report they're not. who are those who are still struggling? >> those that are struggling tend to be younger families, some middle-aged families. in general also families whose heads have less education.
also members of historically disadvantaged minorities, african americans and hispanics. so those are the demographic features of families struging the most. >> woodruff: is that the -- so there's a bright line you can draw between -- it's people at the lower end of the economic scale? >> actually, the same families that we knew were struggling a bit even before the downturn are still struggling. >> woodruff: well, let me ask you. there was a national federal reserve report, as you know, that came out not long ago. >> yes. >> woodruff: that said 91% of the wealth that had been lost during the recession has since been restored. how does that square with what your findings are? >> that's the starting point. those numbers through the end of last year, the next report will be coming out in early june that will bring us through the end of the first quarter. those numbers gave that 91% recovery figure. then we adjusted that for inflation that's occurred since that time, since the peak in
2007, and also adjusted for the number of households, the population has grown. when you make those two adjustments, in fact, you get this lower level. so it's -- that earlier report is absolutely the foundation of what we did. we just adjusted it to put it in terms that i think are probably more realistic for most families. what can their money buy and what does an individual family feel in terms of the share of wealth? >> woodruff: what is known about how many of these families who very still below water, if you will, in terms of not regaining wealth. how about how many of them were overextended before the financial crash? had borrowed too much, were borrowing too much off their homes, were just more in debt than they needed to be? >> absolutely. more so than in earlier times before downturns we know from some of the day that that we're looking at that an unusually large number of families, in fact, as you said, had a lot of debt relative to their income. the value of their assets also
lots of concentration in housing on the asset side of their balance sheets. also, as we know, very low savings rates and for some families using expensive financial services. so those are really the key vulnerabilities, what we call balance sheet failures that, as you suggest, were even more common going into this downturn than was usual. and, of course, the downturn then exacerbated those problems. >> woodruff: so to the extent they were overextended, had borrowed too much, could one argue that it's smart, that it's wise for them to be more cautious in what they're spending right now? not to go back into debt? >> absolutely. i think it makes perfect sense that people are trying to rebuild their financial strength, rebuild their balance sheets. and that involves in some cases paying down debt or not taking on as much debt as they had in the past. certainly people are struggling to reattach to the job market. the job market is weak. income growth is strong. and also diversifying a little
bit beyond housing. so those are absolutely the things that you would expect people to try to do to respond to this sort of a downturn. >> woodruff: what is it going to take to restore fully the wealth that americans had before the financial crash? or is there reason to believe it won't be restored? >> i think there are reasons to think it will take a long time to get back to any semblance of what we had before. now, probably in 2005, 2006, and 2007, that was unrealistic. we had, remember, a housing bubble so we really don't expect housing values to get back to those levels any time soon. also the stock market was very strong. so in answer to your question, i think lilt take years to get back to anything close to what we had but it could also be that as we look back that that was an unusual peak level of wealth that wasn't in the end sustainable. >> woodruff: when you say takes years, meaning years for companies, for employers to hire? years for wages to go up?
is that what you're referring to? >> that's, of course, the raw material. most people are going to rebuild those balance sheet us there the earnings from work and savings and, of course, some appreciation of asset values, stock prices have gone up a lot, house prices maybe will increase a bit more. so that -- all of those things combined as well as managing the debt. so we don't have the buildup of debt we had before. >> woodruff: finally, from looking at all that you've looked at, mr. emmons, what would you say are the lessons we should learn for the next time we have a financial crisis? >> that's exactly what we're looking at and i think -- as i said i think we were overly dependent on housing. people had too much of their wealth invested in housing. we had too much debt relativity-to-certainly our income, we could see that before the downturn after house prices decline we can see it was too much debt relative to the value of even the houses and just in terms of building savings, building wealth through savings, as you suggest, we really do need a more consistent higher level of household savings to
help build in those buffers into a stronger balance sheet. >> woodruff: well it helps us to understand all of that through your research.william e. louis federal reserve. thanks very much. >> thank you very much. >> brown: still to come on the newshour: the possible doubling of interest rates on student loans, margaret warner in lebanon, syrian refugees in jordan, and shields and brooks. but first, the other news of the day. here's kwame holman. >> holman: flash flooding and tornadoes killed three people in arkansas overnight, and a new string of storms marched across the nation's midsection today. up to a dozen tornadoes touched down in arkansas alone, as well as one in illinois and three in oklahoma that caused structural damage to homes. the storm system brought heavy rain with it, making flash flooding a problem across the region. in the western u.s., firefighters fought two growing wildfires. a rapidly moving blaze some 25 miles west of sante fe, new
mexico, has already scorched 1,000 acres and jumped a highway. meanwhile, 500 firefighters in california tried to control a 1,400-acre wildfire in the angeles national forest, north of los angeles. it was only 15% contained. the f.b.i. has confirmed three letters tainted with ricin, including one sent to president obama, were postmarked on the same day from spokane, washington. the other poisoned mailings targeted a federal judge and a post office in spokane. a fourth letter sent to nearby fairchild air force base still is being tested. the f.b.i. also is trying to track down a fifth suspicious letter en route to the c.i.a. the secret service said the letters were similar to ones sent to new york city mayor michael bloomberg. the u.s. urged russia today not to send syria's assad regime highly specialized weapons that could prolong that country's civil war. today, the russian manufacturer of mig fighter jets announced
plans to sign a new agreement to ship at least ten of the aircraft to syria. separately, russia said it will supply syria with an order for antiaircraft missiles. in washington today, secretary of state john kerry said those actions would only hinder efforts at peace negotiation. >> it is not helpful to have is-300 transferred to the region while you are trying to organize this peace and create peace. it is not helpful to have a lot of other ammunition, other supplies overtly going in. not just from the russians-- and they are supplying that kind of thing-- but also from the iranians and hezbollah. >> holman: we'll have more on the situation in and around syria later in the program tonight. unemployment in the eurozone hit a record high of 12.2% for the month of april. that calculates to more than 19 million people out of work across the 17 countries that use the euro.
the european union's statistics office warned that if the jobless rate continues at this pace, 20 million people could be unemployed by the end of the year. spain and greece already have unemployment rates above 25 percent. a late afternoon sell-off on wall street sent stocks tumbling. the dow jones industrial average lost 209 points to close at 15,115. the nasdaq fell 35 points to close just below 3,456. for the week, the dow lost more than 1%. the nasdaq fell 0.1%. those are some of the day's major stories. now, back to jeff. >> brown: and we turn to: a july 1 deadline for interest rates on student loans; and the economic consequences of growing student debt. >> now is not the time for us to turn back on young people. >> brown: flank bid students in the rose garden today, president obama then pressed congress not to let average
rates double. >> that means the average student will wrack up an additional $1,000 in debt. that's like a thousand dollar tax hike. i assume most of you cannot afford that. >> brown: the president made a similar push last year before congress ultimately agreed to a one-year fix. that kept rates on federally subsidized stafford student loans from jumping from 3.4% to 6.8%. a year later, lawmakers from both parties are eager to avert the same hike but they're at odds over how. >> motion to reconsider is laid on the table. >> brown: last week, the republican-led house passed its answer: a bill that would avoid the impending rate increase but tie rates on future loans to treasury bonds and allow the rates to float with the market. house education and work force committee chairman john klein. >> we have an opportunity to provide students with more stability in the long run by putting an end to quick fixes and campaign promises and we have an opportunity to build upon common ground with the administration to advance a
bipartisan solution that's a win for both students and taxpayers. >> brown: it's a plan not likely to pass the democratic controlled senate where there's a push to extend the current government subsidies. for his part, the president has also proposed tying rates to treasury notes, but he would allow students to lock in their initial rates for the life of the loans. >> the house bill isn't smart and it's not fair. i'm glad the house is paying attention to it, but they didn't do it the right way. >> brown: replying in a statement today, house speaker john boehner accused the president of playing partisan games writing: >> brown: meanwhile, the democratic congressional campaign committee-- the campaign arm of house democrats-- announced it has taken out adds in six college papers across the country in a bid to pressure house republicans on the issue ahead
of the 2014 midterm elections. we examine some of the possible solutions ahead of the july 1 rate hike. with me are leaders of two nonprofit groups that advocate for the millennial generation. matthew segal is president of ourtime.org. he was at the white house this week discussing the issue. evan feinberg is president of generation opportunity. last year he made an unsuccessful run for congress as a republican. also joining us is anya kamenetz. she's the author of "generation debt." welcome all. >> thank you. >> brown: matthew segal, let me start with you. before the president and the congress, what in a nutshell do you think is the best approach right now? >> i think first of all we need to put this in a larger context and go after the source of the problem which is the spiraling cost of education in the first place which is far outpacing the cost of inflation. it's far outpacing the cost of any good. and until we really rein in on the cost of education, look at
the states, 47 states have cut higher education, look at the fact that colleges are not necessarily spending their money on learn bug, in fact, on the college experience, investing their money in the wrong sorts of priorities that are for prestige as opposed to the core competency of the school. and improve the job market so there's not such a monopoly on needed to go to college as the only way forward. that's where the real conversation needs to happen. as far as student interest rates are going, that is manufactured crisis that we have kicked the can down on t road on and i think ultimately there will be a 23rd hour deal that has some combination of pretty much having the 3.4% rate continue for a year until we can have the larger debate. >> brown: evan feinberg, do you agree about the scale of the problem? what's your possible solution? >> well, i agree the that college affordability is the important issue here. young people simply can't afford college today in today's economy but i disagree about the cause of that. i think both sides are
pandering, trying to offer to young people a lower interest rate on their student loans when they're missing the entire problem. government is' meddling, government's involvement, government guaranteeing so much of the cost of higher edge station what's made it so expensive in the first place. so i think both parties right now -- there isn't a huge difference between the two of them. >> brown: you're seeing the subsidy -- whatever the interest rate is as a subsidy that is part of the problem? >> yeah. so the government took over student loans almost entirely as a part of obamacare, but really the government has been controlling the student loan market for a long time and by subsidizing and guaranteeing so much of the cost of higher education government has been the problem not the solution to the problem of college aaffordability. >> brown: let me bring anya kamenetz in here. help describe the system as it exists right now. >> sure. so, you know, i think matthew's got a lot of good points about the cost of higher education and what we're missing here is the way that the cost and the ability to finance that cost fit into each other.
so, you know, we talk about a subsidy and obama talked about a tax. the important thing to remember here is that by taking over the student loan industry, the federal government is actually earning $50 billion a year on making those student loans. and by providing that easy financing, that easy credit to students, it makes it that much easier for the states to turn around and pass the cost or shift the cost from the states on the the federal government via this means of student loans. so you really have a very nasty vicious circle where tuition continues to grow, affordability we see is a really huge problem, particularly for students from lower income quadrants. accessibility is not working. pell grants aren't working the way that they should and none of this is really the way that we would design it if we were to start over from scratch. >> brown: matthew, pick up on some of that. because in terms of the interest rate itself, you think the government should play, as opposed to what evan feinberg was saying, you think the government should play some role
in that subsidy? >> well, i think it's important to clarify that more student loans is nobody's solution. student lobes are not a good thing. in fact, ideally i believe-- and many young people believe-- that college is -- and higher education is a public good and that we as a society all benefit from it so we have to make it affordable. the way we're going to make it affordable are through pell grants, state funding and through making sure that colleges use their endowment money and their tuition money to go into learning and scholarships and aid as opposed to this arms race to the top, if you will, that people in the college administrator world are putting into the "u.s. news and world report" rankings which i like to call the "u.s. news and world report" industrial complex because it perverse incentivizes schools to try to build megabuildings and football fields as opposed to actually worrying about learning which is obviously the necessity and core competency of the school. but i think in terms of the
government subsidizing loans, yes, we're going to have massive income inequality to a certain degree unless we do incentivize younger peop are from low income backgrounds to take out loans that are not going to be subject to usury and hiked rates from private lenders who, you know, are making college a big business for them. and should college be a booming business? that's where there's a philosophical disagreement among democrats and republicans or just people from different political spectrums. >> brown: do you want to respond? >> i think matt's talking about the college industrial complex which is a very real problem as the government continues to put more and more resources into higher education. >> brown: so wait, you agree on the industrial complex but you think it's partly caused by government? >> sure. anya mentioned that the government profits off of all these loans. i'm not sure most young people are excited that the government is a huge bank that makes profits off of student loans and is driving up the price of education. right now we're debating the difference in the rate on a government loan rather than the size of that loan in the first
place. as government keeps putting more and more resources into it, it grows the cost. if we gave every young person in america $100 to buy an iphone tomorrow, what would apple do? they'd raise the price of iphones because they knew everyone in the country had $100 more to pay for an iphone. the problem here is that the government is putting so much money, some so many guarantees, so many rules and regulations on higher education it's driving the price through the roof. >> brown: anya, do you see -- you look around the country at different things, experiments going on. do you see interesting things that might help us find ways through all this? >> you know, i really do. and there's a really fantastic announcement just made yesterday by corps sara, which is one of the massively open online course platforms. they have over three million students enrolled in versions of courses from colleges like harvard and m.i.t. that are absolutely free. coursera has penn and stanford.
they've announced partnerships with university systems and these universities in states coast to coast enrolling over a million students are looking at ways to share resources, to collaborate and use technology to build the infrastructure for what we'd all like to see which is radically more affordable and more accessible high-qualitying experiencing that can cost through the cost fog. it's true that the role of easy finance and the ability to borrow has driven up the cost and made -- muddy it had waters a little bit. but we all think-- or many of us believe, especially on the democratic side-- that there is a role for subsidizing education as a public good. the question is what is the best way to do that? i believe that technology offers a fascinating way forward for a college education that is more like what our parents experienced. which is in the 1970s a young person could go to college, a state university, and they could pay for that with a part-time job. and that's what we'd all like to get back to. >> brown: i'm guessing that you'd all agree that the student debt problem is hurting the
economy. something we heard in our earlier segment. >> it's massively hurting the economy. >> brown: do you think the rest of the population understands that? >> no. i think the problem is we have a student loan debt crisis that people think is just for students when, in fact, 50% of the people with outstanding student loan debt in this country are over the age of 30. by the way, people who are seniors have student loans and they will deduct it because you can not forgive student loan debt or restructure student loan debt in bankruptcy court because there are very few, if not negligible protections for student borrowers. they will take it out of your social security. so i think the fact that there has not been a vociferous student lobby in this area that is advocating for their rights and needs around college affordability and better loan pathways is a very big problem for the economy. >> brown: just in our last minute, is this an area we can agree on? >> absolutely. 84% of young people 18 to 29 are
delaying major life decisions because of the poor economy and because of the massive student loan debt they're under. 50% are coming out of school and can't find full-time work. we have a real crisis with the millennials. i think it's a government caused crisis. meddling in student loans, meddling in the economy has made it difficult for our generation to have the kind of opportunity that our parents and grandparents had. it's a major crisis. we agree on that. >> brown: to be continued. evan feinberg, matthew segal and anya kamenetz, thank you all very much. >> woodruff: and we return to syria, for two looks at the conflict. ray suarez has more. >> suarez: as we reported earlier, the top diplomats from germany and the united states said russia's supply of advanced air defense systems would only prolong syria's bloody civil war. meanwhile, senator john mccain said syrian rebels battling bashar al-assad need ammunition
and heavy weapons to counter the damascus regime's tanks and aircraft. mccain said the current battlefield situation favors assad's forces. during a trip to syria, the arizona senator met with the head of the free syrian army salimidris. margaret warner is in lebanon continuing here series of reports on the syrian war spillover effects in the region. earlier today she spoke to general idris and she joins me from beirut. margaret, the general had been involved in serious fighting near the lebanese border. fighting you could see in the distance. how does he see the situation on the ground in and around cue ai? >> he said the situation is really quite desperate in the sense that they've run out of food and medicine. many civilians are dead, many fighters are dead, many wounded they can not get out and he described them as sort of hunkered down.
but when i said "how long can you hold out?" he said "for a very long time." and this they are sending -- the free syrian army is sending reinforcements. he said that they had inserted 300 more fighters today, that he and his commanders had established some sort of an operating center where they hoped to get 700 more fighters nearby by tomorrow night and take -- get them in with food, water, medicine and ammunition. so far from getting ready for a defeat-- which is what you're hearing from some quarters-- the free syrian army see this is as a very strategic and important battle and they plan to double down on it. >> brown: how does idris see the competitive situation between his army and assad's changing if russia follows through or has followed through on its plans to send new weapons to assad? >> ray, that was the question. he said "i cannot understand why our friends in the west don't
help us when they see how much the iranians and the russians are doing for assad's forces." and when i asked him "what will happen if he successfully delivers these surface-to-air missiles, these this anti-defense system." he said "it will make assad much more powerful." he said "if the west ever decides to establish a no-fly zone it will be much harder." he said "right now assad's air defenses are very poor, we know that. but if he deliver this is antiaircraft weaponry --" he basically was saying it's a game changer. >> suarez: what does he need from the west? there he is telling you he can't understand why he isn't getting more support. was he specific about what his army needs? or does it need everything, really? >> well, it really needs everything, but they have been saying since i was on the turkey side of the syrian border in november and december the same thing they've been saying all along which is we are being
bombardd from the air. for instance, that's the situation in qusair. the hezbollah fighters have the town surrounded but they got a daily bombardment from the air. they have no means of bringing down these planes. these planes fly so high, these bombers, you can't even see them most of the time. so that's the number-one thing they want. they also just need more materiel, particularly ammunition. and basic supplies. but the most important thing they say they need-- and i'm sure that this is what he told senator mccain earlier this week-- is they really want something to counteract these airplanes. >> suarez: now, for a long time lebanon-- where you've been reporting this week-- has been under the domination of syria. and if the country that's been dominating you is in chaos, what does that mean to your own country? what's been happening in lebanon now that this regional bully boy of syria is distracted with its own civil war? >> well, they have been
distracted for last two years and people have said to me that, you know, it is a new feeling for lebanon which usually took its orders directly -- or indirectly from the syrian regime. both through their influence, through hezbollah and the government and also simply by the power of their military and secret police. and just the whole network of interconnections. now in a way the tables have turned. syria is looking to hezbollah for help. but the syrian government is really powerless or seems powerless to, for instance, seal that board cher is one of the things that the general idris is asking, keep the hamas fighters to getting in. so i think that for a country like lebanon which suffered through a 15-year civil war and then another 15 more years after the civil war of occupation by the syrians, this is an unexpected kind of freedom but one they are really not ready to handle yet.
>> suarez: our margaret warner joining us from beirut. thanks a lot, margaret. we turn now to another nation struggling to cope with the chaos in next door syria, the kingdom of jordan. the country is now home to roughly a third of syria's estimated million and a half refugees. the newshour's foreign editor justin kenny traveled to the kingdom last week and produced this report. >> reporter: this is zatari, it's now second-largest refugee camp on earth. just over a year ago, the site didn't exist. jordan's king abdullah now calls it his country's fifth-largest city. more than 120,000 syrian refugees-- including 60,000 children-- are packed into the camp living in tents and trailers on five square miles of dry and dusty ground. just 15 miles from their homeland's border, they often can hear the fighting between the forces of syrian president
bashar al-assad and the rebel free syrian army. the refugees are out of the war zone, but they face plenty of new challenges. >> (translated): my children have all been sick for 20 days now. >> reporter: 25-year-old nadia raja and her five children arrived from syria five weeks ago. >> (translated): they have fevers. they are suffering from the hot weather, the polluted water, and from their situation in general in the camps because of the heat. >> reporter: a clean tent didn't protect the family from zaatari's fly infestation. to say that life in the camp is hard is an understatement by nearly any definition. in the winter residents endure snowstorms and flooding. in the summer they struggle to survive temperatures that shoot above 100 degrees fahrenheit with only limited water and no electricity. members of the international aid community say they're straining to keep up with the ballooning
humanitarian crisis. >> i don't think you can think it can get any worse but it does every night. >> suarez: andrew harper is the united nations high commissioner for refugees representative to jordan. his organization oversees the camp in coordination with the jordanian government and many other international humanitarian organizations. >> there's over 500,000 syrians that have come through since march of last year, anywhere up to 3,000 to 4,000 per night, which basically means a thousand families. this means a thousand families with women and children who come across with nothing, and we have to provide everything for them-- the tents, the food, the water, the health facilities and the protection. >> suarez: a constant stream of aid trucks-- nearly 500 per day, according to u.n.h.c.r.-- drop off supplies, including water. there are well-organized distribution centers, and medical facilities, and schools in the camp.
despite that, residents said they don't have enough to eat, clean water to drink, or adequate medical care. only 20% of zaatari's children attend classes in the camp. ten-year-old hanin hariri fled to jordan with her family ten months ago: >> we dont do anything. we sit in the tents all the time. we don't play anymore. >> suarez: 20-year-old abdul mounim droubi works at a bakery in the camp's makeshift market. unlike many others he is able to earn meager wages. he still says, however, that he'd rather go home to war than continue living as a refugee in zaatari. >> it's better to die there actually, because here you would die from hunger. >> suarez: many syrian refugees apparently feel the same way. the jordanian government announced this week that 60,000 of them have returned home. despite the exodus, more refugees continue to pour into the hashemite kingdom every day,
and this has put an enormous strain on jordan. it's a relatively poor country that already hosts hundreds of thousands of refugees from the iraq war and more than two million palestinian refugees that have come in various waves over the past 65 years. last week, the country took out a $150 million world bank loan to deal with refugee crisis, and king abdullah made a plea for help at a world economic forum. >> our jordanian population is now hosting 10% of its size in syrian refugees, and this may double by year end. jordanians are generously sharing scarce water and other resources. for host countries like us and lebanon, for displaced and vulnerable syrians, both inside and outside their country, increased humanitarian assistance from the global community is vital.
>> suarez: marwan muasher jordan's former foreign minister and deputy prime minister is now a vice president at the carnegie endowment for international peace. >> you cannot, under any circumstances, deal with 20% of your population overnight coming to the country. we are i think coming to the limit of the situation today. the economy is already suffering. even without the syrian crisis there's at least a 12% budget deficit. water is scarce and has been scarce throughout jordan's history. the infrastructure cannot just absorb all these people. >> suarez: nowhere is the impact on jordan's own population more apparent than in the north. most of the country's 500,000 syrian refugees live outside camps and many have settled in places like ramtha on the syrian border. the city depended on cross-
border trade with its sister city da'raa. that trade is nonexistent today, and ramtha's population has surged with refugees. the cost of rent, food, and water are up; employment and wages are down. jordanian ali zoubi attmepts to eke out a living by working at various businesses owned by relatives in ramtha, including his uncle's shoe store. >> ( translated ): the economy has been hit very hard. i feel bad for the syrians, they had to all leave their homes. i'm not blaming them, they were forced to come here, they lost family members, brothers and sisters. but with jordanians things are jordan is a poor country and the economic conditions are bad. >> suarez: talk to syrian refugees or jordanians, and it's tough to find people who expect a political solution instead of more war. virtually all of the refugees interviewed supported arming the opposition.
the jordanian government, however, has publicly stated that it is against providing arms to the free-syrian army. >> arming the opposition, at least so far, is still a problematic issue. it's not clear the arming the opposition would lead to a political process that would end the conflict. its not clear the arming the opposition would lead to a reversal of the military situation on the ground. in a country such as jordan, a neighbor to syria, jordan would be very concerned that it would be seen as interfering in the concerns of a neighbor state. and it is jordan's belief that is up to syrians to decide, not an outside power. >> suarez: back at zaatari, there are tough decisions to be made, says andrew harper, including cutting back water and food ration amounts as the conflict drags on. harper thinks it may last a long
while. >> there's nobody that can give me one positive indicator that this can be resolved any time soon, whether it be one year, two years or beyond that. whenever people delay a meeting for a month, it probably means another 6,000 dead in syria, it probably means another 40,000, 50,000, 60,000, 70,000 refugees. the bureaucratic timeline does not meet the humanitarian timeline, nor the political imperative. we do not see it as demonstrating the necessary urgency or importance that these people demand. >> suarez: nadia raja says she has no idea how long she and her family will remain refugees. >> ( translated ): it's hard to know. there's no electricity, there's no tv, we don't know what's going on in the world. >> suarez: she and the others hold out varying degrees of hope of returning to syria.
until that day comes, if it comes, they share the hope the world doesn't forget about them. >> woodruff: and to the analysis of shields and brooks: syndicated columnist mark shields, and "new york times" columnist david brooks. welcome back, gentlemen. good to have you both with us. so, mark, this terrible humanitarian crisis spilling across the border into jordan. does this put more pressure on the obama administration to do something? >> i think it does in a humanitarian sense, judy. the resistance to america doing anything in a military way is obviously shaped and determined by what -- a decade of afghanistan and iraq and americans' reluctance to go into it. but when you see the piece that ray just presented and the human
face of the suffering, these are the poorest of the people going to the poorest of lebanon. children without school, without joy, without laughter and people without hope or future. at a humanitarian level it cries for engagement and generosity. >generosity. >> woodruff: we know john mccain is saying the united states must give ammunition, he said, and heavy weapons. he said the rebels will lose. >> yeah, well i'm somewhat more sympathetic to that as time goes by and nobody is certain what the next syria is look lake and it would be nice if the syrians would solve within the syrian context but the russian and iranians and through iran, hezbollah or hezbollah through iran are involve sod the government is getting outside help and it seems that's creating a strong imbalance assad will survive, continue to have the regime he's been having and to me it seemed more
compelling both on humanitarian ground so we can shape the rebel force and finally just to deal a blow to hazard and for our own national interest i think making sure hezbollah and iran don't have a victory in syria is an important part of reshaping the middle east. so i think the case for doing something either john mccain says or no-fly zones, we're more impelled. >> woodruff: do americans have the appetite for that? >> no, they don't and i think no-fly zone-- with respect to john mccain-- is an unrealistic objective. i think the russians may have pushed by the wrong range missiles they're introducing in a theater. they may, in fact, provoke the united states and everybody else to do what they hadn't contemplated doing and would not do on their own. it's terrible to think of award
by proxy but that could be what's on the horizon right now. >> it's not like we would be alone. the europeans are way ahead of us. i think it would be a reasonably broad coalition. what it would lead to as far as the syrian future, to be fair, no one knows that and so that's, i think why the hesitancy from the white house. >> woodruff: it's a tough one. let's come back here to the united states wrao where all the problems are easily solved. the president, david, it looks like he's getting ready to announce the number-two man at the justice department under president bush to head the f.b.i. james comey. smart move? >> i think extremely smart. bipartisan in the first place but just in terms of an outstanding public servant. i have never interviewed him, i don't know him personally but i went back today and rewatched -- he gave testimony after a very dramatic incident which has been widely talked about. there was a domestic surveillance program in the bush white house that some people in the white house-- and the vice president's office-- wanted to
continue. the justice department decided that it was not a legal program and they were going to not extend it. and the white house chief of staff and the president's council went to the hospital room of john ashcroft, the attorney general, to get him to overrule the justice department and comey and bob mueller and some others physically stood there and said "no, this is our ruling, we're sticking with this ruling." ashcroft stood with them. and to stand up as a mid-level civil servant against the chief of staff and the white house, that takes enormous courage and if anybody wants to see how to testify before congress, go on youtube and watch this testimony. it's exemplary in how he presents himself. >> woodruff: is this a slam dunk in terms of confirmation if he's nominated? he still hasn't been nominated. >> if he isn't nominated i don't think he will be confirmed judy, that's the way it works. (laughter) it was an inspired and brilliant choice, i do. on substance and politically. chuck hagel, who is a republican, had been a friend of barack obama's, even a
supporter. james comey is not political at all. there's nothing partisan about him. he is a republican, he's a registered republican but he's most of all a public servant a time when trust and confidence in government is in the cellar, deep in the basement. i mean, this is a man who exemplifies profile in courage, as dave has just described and public service at its best. i think it's a remarkable choice and he gave us patrick fitzgerald and proba -- but david described his standing -- >> woodruff: who was the special prosecutor? >> special prosecutor who, of course, led the investigation of the whole leaking of valerie plame and resulted in the president's chief of staff -- the vice president's chief of staff being convicted. and at the same time led to the breach, quite frankly, politically,-- not that it was intended-- between george bush and dick cheney. i mean, that was the cleavage,
comey was -- i mean not that comey set out to do it but because he did stand up and he did warn that enhanced interrogation and waterboarding would come back -- it would be revealed and it would come back and humiliate and hurt the united states of america and he was absolutely right. >> woodruff: so does the president, david, then avoid a fight by choosing him? >> right. he avoids a fight. the other potential talked about person was sort of involved in benghazi in tangential ways so there was an opportunity that the confirmation hearing would turn into another benghazi occasion so if the nomination comes through i'd be vised if there was much fighting. >> brown: there would be some criticism from the american civil liberties union and those on the left but politically speaking, pragmatically, that's an ideal nomination for barack obama to make to have an f.b.i. director who the only critics of is from the american civil liberties union, which is, you
know, not probably considered a formidable politically. >> woodruff: well, this comes at the same time the administration is -- the name is floated at the same time the administration is under a lot of fire from the news media and, frankly, from just about everybody for the way they have investigated the press aggressively, mark. looking for whoever got a leak, a story from -- in the form of classified information from the administration. the attorney general particularly under fire. he's been having meetings the last two days with news media executives. what does all this say? is the administration tkr-rb they able to put this behind them by talking to the peres about what happened? >> well, they're playing defense, judy. they're trying to make up for it. this is the first time, really since richard nixon's administration and the -- neil sheehan of the "new york times," the reporter who published and reported on the elseburg case, the elseburg papers about the
united states deep involvement in background on vietnam which the administration then did not want published. it's the first time they've invoked a member of the press, a reporter, as a co coconspirator under the espionage act and this was what was done to jim rose of fox news and the investigation. so there has been an understandable and predictable and very loud and vocal cry on the part of the press that -- i mean, this is more than chilling, it's really punitive. >> woodruff: where is this heading, david? >> they're trying to rewrite the rules but they're handling it very ineptly, i would say. there was testimony from holder that they were not doing prosecuting of peres people at the same time they were at least walking up close to that so there's some problem with the testimony and then they've clearly signaled this week that they're uncomfortable with the rules as they exist and to me
that's not close to being enough, they should be appalled by the rules as they now exist but nonetheless they're showing a little sense of remorse or pseudoremorse, a sense of okay, we're going to fix this. >> woodruff: did you say sue dopseudoremorse? >> well, you can't tell what they're feeling and yes we'll adjust it but how much, yes the white house will change it but how much? so they had this off-the-record briefing which was leaked immediatefully which they were not clear even then about what they wanted to do. so there was just a lot of fuzziness but a little saying we're sorry, we're sorry. but what are you going to do? >> woodruff: a lot of the media executives didn't want to participate in these meetings as long as they were off the record. >> exactly. and pseudoremorse is like a limited mea culpa. kind of "we didn't want do anything wrong but we want to reexamine what we're doing." >> woodruff: so politics. the tea party seems to be getting more attention since the i.r.s. controversy and we
haven't talked about that in a few weeks. but the other thing about the tea party is this week michele bachmann, who is ar prominent member of the tea party announced, david, she's not running for reelection to her congressional seat which i think gives us a reason to look at what's happened with the tea party. there was a sense last year that they were losing some steam. are they coming back? i mean, now we're reading that they're picking up donations, mark, picking up new members. >> well, if you spend a couple years saying "the i.r.s. is out to get us" then it turns out the i.r.s. is out to get you it will help you with your fund-raising. so i think it looks like they're not losing steam and i don't think michele bachmann leaving the stage is going to hurt at all. it's not a leader driven movement. it is a grass-roots movement so i think they'll be a permanent part of the party. the relative strength of the tea party versus the establishment part of the tea party where l vary issue to issue. i think on the immigration part of the issue the establishment part of the party is doing very
well. it looks like there will be a lot of votes in the senate for that. better than 50-50 both house bus certainly the senate. so that's a sign of strength. the sign of weakness, though, for the party as a whole is they're having trouble recruiting candidates in a lot of places: colorado, virginia, there's a good "national journal" story on this. and i think one of the reasons they're probably having some trouble is a lot of what you would call established republicans don't want to have a war with a tea party candidate so they're more his tent to say "okay, i'll run for senate, for governor, for whatever." >> they do not have -- the rabbs have clear shots in iowa for the united states senate. in minnesota against al franken who won in a squeaker and didn't get the seat for nine months after the election. they can't get a candidate. they can't get legitimate mainstream -- >> woodruff: why is that? >> i think because the influence, the energy, the influence is disproportionate of the tea party in these states and in the nominating process. we just saw it in virginia where
bishop e.w. jackson was nominated at convention for lieutenant governor and they're running away from each other. >> woodruff: very, conservative. >> very, very conservative. i do think it has its influence and power in the house republican caucus and that is a problem for john boehner, a problem for eric cantor who's tried to come up with an alternative republican program, the kind that have that bob dole urged them to have and he's been rained on by the tea party members and the conservative caucus so i think there's an energy that they have but i really do think there are roadblocks and they certainly intheubt republicans being competitive nationally at a presidential level. >> woodruff: to be continued. we appreciate the energy both of you bring every week. mark shields, david brooks. and mark and david keep up the talk on the doubleheader, recorded in our newsroom. that will be posted at the top of the rundown later tonight. and don't miss our special, live doubleheader, when the guys will take your questions, on june 21. >> brown: again, the major
developments of the day. the obama administration announced the outlook for medicare has improved modestly, and social security is unchanged over a year ago. a separate federal reserve study found some americans are rebounding from the economic recession, but others continue to struggle. and, president obama pressed congress to prevent student loan rates from doubling in a month . >> woodruff: online, sizing up the state of economic inequality. kwame holman has more. >> holman: is the 99% falling even further behind the 1%? one of our readers posed the question, and so we put economics correspondent paul solman on the case. he picks up the discussion on our "making sense" page. all that and more is on our web site, newshour.pbs.org. judy? >> woodruff: before we go tonight, we'd like to remember one of our own. julian dawkins worked as a shuttle driver at the newshour for the last three years. he was fatally shot in the early hours of may 22 by an off-duty police officer.
last night, that sheriff's deputy was arrested and charged with julian's murder. since julian's death, friends and family have created a makeshift memorial at the site where he was slain, near his aunt's house in a washington suburb. and today, hundreds gathered for his funeral in alexandria, virginia. the crowd was so large it spilled out into the street. to us, julian was a sweet man who brightened our days with his warm smile. and we miss him. you can go to our web site to read gwen ifill's eulogy from today's service. that's the newshour for tonight. i'm judy woodruff. >> brown: and i'm jeffrey brown. "washington week" can be seen later this evening on most pbs stations. we'll see you online, and again here monday evening. have a nice weekend. thanks for joining us. good night. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by:
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